National Harbor, Md. — Companies with sustainability goals centered around greatly expanding the use of recycled plastics are facing a one-two punch as deadlines draw closer.
A litany of recycled-content goals have been set by brand owners and packaging makers in recent years, with many tying their aspirations to 2025.
While that deadline once seemed comfortably distant, time is starting to run short to both capture more used plastics and create the additional reprocessing capacity to handle that material.
Looming sustainability goal deadlines were repeatedly mentioned during at the recent Plastics Recycling Conference in National Harbor, and Emily Friedman, recycled plastic senior market editor for consulting firm ICIS, gave her take on the situation.
"Over the next five years, well less than five years — less than three years at this point — we're going to need pretty much exponential growth in order to get us to meet these targets," she told the conference crowd.
"We decided we would look at two different pictures of what this supply-demand gap might be. One from a packaging perspective as a whole, the other is just PET and HDPE [high density polyethylene] bottles, since a lot of the commitments are coming from bottle manufacturers, beverage manufactures," Friedman explained.
For a general packaging simulation, ICIS looked at requirements needed to reach 15 percent recycled content by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. Friedman explained the company settled on those target numbers by looking at legislative activity governing post-consumer resin use.
For a more-specific look at PET and HDPE bottles, ICIS took into consideration broader considerations.